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homemade granola bars

homemade granola bars | photo by: Cassandra Birocco

The first time I made these granola bars I handed them off to my friends as they headed out the door to go hiking, without even trying them first, something I never do. Thankfully, they all loved them and they since become a staple in my kitchen. The recipe is really versatile so you can substitute with any dried fruits or nuts you like, or simply use what you have on hand.

Cooking spray, for greasing
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons flax seeds
3 tablespoons shredded coconut
1 1/2 tablespoons wheat germ
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of kosher salt
3 tablespoons dried cranberries
3 tablespoons raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a loaf pan and line with parchment paper so it hangs over short edges by about 1 inch (this will allow you lift it out and remove it easily from pan). Set aside.
2. On a baking sheet, combine oats, pumpkin, sunflower and flax seeds and coconut and toss to combine. Bake for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in wheat germ.
3. Reduce temperature to 300°F.
4. In a sauce pan, heat butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla and salt over medium heat. Cook until sugar dissolves. Pour over oat mixture and stir to combine, making sure all of oat mixture is completely coated. Stir in cranberries and raisins to oat mixture and spread evenly in prepared loaf pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden brown. Allow to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Transfer to refrigerator and allow to set up and chill for another hour (they cut much better when they are cold). Serve at room temperature. Granola bars can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Makes 4 bars.

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